By Deacon Derick Cranston
The innocence of little children is often to be envied. They live with total abandon, simply enjoying the moment, and are completely trusting and delighted to experience and learn new things. However, as children mature and grow older, all of this starts to change.
As adults, we start looking back at the past with regret and look to the future with anxiety. We become uneasy if we feel we are losing control in certain areas of our life. Suspicion of new and unexpected things can engulf us. That is not how it needs to be in our relationship with Christ.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus encourages us to approach God with the attitude of little children. He calls us to surrender ourselves with complete abandon to him, and to live in the moment surrounding ourselves with his love.
Life puts many roadblocks in our way: setbacks, betrayal, the loss of a loved one, and the list goes on. How can we possibly maintain the innocence of a child when we have been weighed down by the hardships of an imperfect life? What can we do when the burden becomes too much?
Jesus anticipates this and says elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
In Jesus’s day, yokes were used to bind two oxen or cattle together to pull a cart. It was extremely difficult for a yoke to fit both beasts in an easy and comfortable way because each ox had a uniquely shaped back.
As a result, the yoke would be uneven, chaffing and distressing the oxen. The carpenters who fashioned the yokes found it nearly impossible to make a yoke that fit in an easy and comfortable way. However, Jesus is no ordinary carpenter.
If we allow ourselves to be yoked to Christ’s love, his yoke will fit us perfectly and easily. Let Christ’s loving arms embrace us and yoke us to him. He will lift the weight of our problems off our shoulders and carry us through the hardships and difficulties of life.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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